(Photo : Network 54)
“Was, St Nicholas Abbey and Camelot”
Hard on the heels of our announcement last week of the arrival of Sadler’s Wells’ grandson, Golden Sword, the potency of the male line was underlined again on Saturday. But before we go there, we’ve been amazed at the response we’ve had to the story on Golden Sword, obviously echoing the world’s great respect for his six-time Group One-winning sire, High Chaparral, and his achievement in getting six Group One winners in his first year at stud. We doubt there’s been so much excitement around a “Sword” since the reign of King Arthur, when he wrenched Excalibur out of the rock! Fellows in remote places like Dr. Ashley Parker and Highlands’ Mike Sharkey, were even onto the story. Annet Becker and Tarryn Liebenberg, fresh returned from a shopping spree in Australia where High Chaparral’s as “hot” as it gets, were back-slapped incessantly at the news.
Perhaps we should talk about Friday first though, when Galileo’s daughter, Was, trumped a top field in the Investec Oaks (Gr.1) at Epsom Downs, reminding us that the portents for the tribe of Sadler’s Wells at the world’s most famous racecourse, were strong. While Galileo is undoubtedly the best son at stud of Sadler’s Wells (himself the most successful European sire of all time,) it’s equally true that when it comes to rattling up Classic winners, no stallion, not even Sadler’s Wells, can match the rate of his other son, Montjeu, in the production of European Derby and Oaks aces, anywhere.
One of the great traditions on Investec Derby Day is the Coronation Cup (Gr.1), contested by older horses over the Derby course, and this year named for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. When last year’s hero, St Nicholas Abbey, trotted up by 4,5 lengths on Saturday, we should’ve known what lay in store when it came to the Derby itself.
And so it proved, with Camelot maintaining his perfect record under murderous acceleration to gallop away by a growing 5 lengths. It seems his connections will be unable to resist the temptation of contesting the Triple Crown, despite the negative implications which accrue against a stallion prospect that’s stayed the 14½ furlongs of the St Leger. This is something no horse has come close to achieving since Nijinsky, Britain’s last Triple Crown hero in 1970, and it didn’t do his stud prospects any harm either, though it has to be said that “chivalry” was still a decent word in those days.
For those who believe in the spiritual world, you might say there’s less of a coincidence in the announcement by us of Golden Sword’s arrival at Summerhill and Camelot, King Arthur’s fabled stronghold, than at first meets the eye. Could this be the start of a new legend? Certainly, the handicappers believe so, as they rated this Derby performance on a par with Sea The Stars’ in 2009.
Back to earth now, and Jackson’s smashing victory in the Daily News 2000 (Gr.1) at Greyville on Saturday. That he is the best middle distance three-year-old in the land is indisputable, and it seems the only thing that can stop him now in the Vodacom Durban July, is his merit rating and the weight they’ll be put on his shoulders in handicap conditions. It’s likely he’ll have to carry as big a burden as any three-year-old has ever done in Africa’s greatest horse race. It’s a matter now, of just how good he is.
South Africa is blessed to have two world-class sophomore colts this year, Variety Club at a mile and Jackson at a trip, and we must surely all be clapping hands at the prospect that these two exceptional animals will one day get their chance to show the world just how good our horses are.
For the record, Jackson is another of the Sadler’s Wells crew, being a son of the highly-promising Dynasty, himself a champion and a grandson of the great European sire. Saturday 2nd June 2012, a timely reminder of just how valuable the old man’s genes are, and when they’re transmitted, potent their influence is.
Editor’s note: That Camelot’s performance was rated on a par with Sea The Stars’, puts Golden Sword’s Derby performance (just 2 lengths off Sea The Stars) into perspective. In Camelot’s field (and without the victor,) Golden Sword was a Derby winner by 3 lengths!
We would be failing in our duty if we did not mention the exceptional effort in the Daily News 2000 of Shogunnar, who was denied second place by a half length by the substantially more experienced Vettel. Shogunnar is a son of the Royal Whip Stakes (Gr.2) hero, Solskjaer (by Danehill), and went into the race with just three starts under his belt. He joins Ice Axe as another standout colt for his 120 Timeform-rated sire. While he’ll pick up a hefty penalty for his Group One place, Shogunnar looks an outstanding prospect for the Gold Circle Derby later this month. His mother, Surfer’s Eye, was acquired by Judge Alan Magid a couple of years back, and as one of our most regular blog correspondents, the Judge will be tickled at the outcome. Rejoice, Judge, there are several hundred others at Summerhill who share your pleasure.